It all began at my pre-birthday birthday bash at the Raffles Hotel Makati’s Long Bar last August. I asked the question, “What is the ultimate alcohol etiquette or tips you can give somebody?” to a table of semi-seasoned 20-something drinkers. By this time, we were already two hours into the Long Bar’s fantastic Happy Hour promo (PHP 695.00++ for unlimited premium drinks, cocktails, and beers from 5pm to 8pm, daily) and some people got creative with their answers. It ranged from serious to plain out outrageous. For instance, a young female friend of mine (we often refer to her as “the girl with too many friends”, she’s never without a party invitation from all sorts of things) said, “You can’t leave without finishing your glass. If you can’t finish it, just leave with it.” Although we all secretly want to do that, it just isn’t proper form and we certainly don’t want to upset the establishments who have shown us nothing but good hospitality.
“Alcohol etiquette? What etiquette?” said another funny friend, a young businessman who distributes a leading air freshener brand in the Philippines. Over the months, I’ve asked people this question, and many were quick to brush it off as a mere social media game I was doing for entertainment purposes. But overall, what I loved most about doing this little project was seeing how each person answered. It became a true reflection of their personalities. From that point onwards, it became a normal thing for me to publish Alcohol Etiquette and tips on my Instagram stories whenever hitting a party or enjoying Happy Hour with a group of friends.
One of the most common (and very millennial) answers were, “Always look into the eyes of the people you’re doing a cheers with or have seven years of bad…” You know the answer, or use your imagination. Drinking culture often begins at a very young age in Manila. Usually during that coming of age time, when people are discovering themselves. It is no surprise that much of the drinking etiquette answers that I got in the last few months were things working millennials learned when they were in their adolescents or in college. Meaning, some are too shocking or inappropriate to publish on a site like this. However, there are still some great answers that may actually prove to be quite helpful to the avid party goer.
“Always hydrate between drinks,” said a friend of mine, an owner of a manpower company who was about to leave the Raffles after Happy Hour to attend a formal gala in Ortigas. He was joining in on the fun, but was wary of his next appointment. Hence, he wanted to balance his drinking with some H2O. “Even if you’re not drinking for the night, make sure you’re always drinking something,” said a young banker as he sipped on his ginger ale. This fella was cautious about his diet, as he is a frequent marathoner and had given up drinking for his training. I feel that this is a good tip, not only for health purposes, but because it just shows that people don’t always need to be drinking to have fun. He was conversational and funny, and didn’t need liquid confidence to do it. Young people need to learn his trick. My mother introduced the term Teetotaler to me, which means “complete abstinence from alcohol but still drinking soda or juice to feel like you’re joining in on the fun”. Think about it like the placebo effect. And apparently, it works.
On another night, a group of us went to indulge at the Makati Diamond Residences’s scrumptious Champagne Buffet at their signature restaurant Alfred’s. The buffet is not offered all year round, which makes many of us excited to spoil ourselves with various wines and champagnes paired with such food like cochinillo, steak and cold cuts. That night at the Diamond seemed appropriate for another round of Chino’s Alcohol Etiquette. And so I asked.
“Always refill your glass before Happy Hour ends,” joked a friend, who is also a banker and happens to be the girlfriend of my other banker friend previously mentioned. All jokes are half meant. Why is it a crime to enjoy happy hour? Later she was joined in by a sporty buddy of mine who said the same thing, but this time said that “It is rude to get another glass without finishing the one you have first”. That seems fair and makes a lot of sense to me.
Some groups are very aggressive during happy hour. Though this group was also aggressive when it came to the quantity that they drank (or let’s just say enjoyed), I was proud to be part of them because they were respectful to their surroundings. Nothing is more annoying than seeing people call out waiters with disrespect, harsh words, or demanding behavior. That would be my ultimate pet peeve and probably my #1 alcohol etiquette: “Be nice to the people serving you. Be respectful to the establishment you’re in. You have no excuses to be mean just because your glass is empty or because you’ve had too much.” Know your limits people, and always be safe.
There was a wine night once to celebrate the despedida of a good friend going to the United States for a period of time. As I asked the different guests their take on my little question, I was surprised to get a handful of tips rather than etiquette rules. I think by this time, I’ve done the poll so much and posted it on Instagram that people were trying to change it up and be more creative. Some, didn’t even want to participate anymore and wanted to be left alone in their merry making. A part-time spin instructor at Electric Studio who values health above everything else was quick to quip, “Make sure you work out beforehand to make up for the calories you’re drinking.” She then ordered another bottle of red wine for the table fifteen minutes before closing time.
“Drink Vitamin B Complex to avoid a hangover,” said another. It was an unexpected answer from a young lady who was going to Tarot school. One of the most impressive answers of the evening came from a friend who works at a Public Relations agency, “Make sure you have a glass charm, so you know which glass is yours at all times.” After making that statement, she magically pulled one out and put it on the stem of her wine glass. From that point onward, she was able to identify which one was hers in the sea of maybe 30-40 wine glasses filled with different grape varietals. Smart move, smart move.
I will definitely continue to seek out more interesting answers. I know some of these have helped me once or twice. By writing this essay, I hope you’ve found some useful tips too. I also admit that I’ve joined in the fun once in a while and have given my own answers. After backtracking my video files on my laptop, I found one of my answers that I think I can completely stand by: “Drink whatever you like. It could be the cheapest thing on the menu or the most expensive, but if you like it, have it.” Because living a life of luxury isn’t about having the most expensive bottle on the table, but having good people around you with whom can share their favorite drink.
But I implore you all to please drink responsibly always.
By Chino R. Hernandez